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Our journey towards becoming Barefoot Man began in 2009 when a group of volunteers got together to produce the first Warwick Rowers calendar.
The calendar stood out. Male university athletes stripping totally naked in public to support diversity was something new. Our calendar was soon joined by films and digital images and then art books. Our products struck a chord with many men and women around the world who loved to see men’s bodies being presented in this artistic, frank and yet playfully innocent way.
The rowers took part both to challenge themselves and to call for a more inclusive culture in sport. They also raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to fund sport and sports inclusion.
The calendar continued to feature the men’s rowing team at one UK university for nearly ten years, until eventually we outgrew our little boathouse on the River Avon.
In 2019 we became the Worldwide Roar so that we could include athletes from other countries, other sports and different lived experiences.
In 2014, while still the Warwick Rowers, we had already set up and begun funding registered charity Sport Allies, with a mission to promote more widely our belief in the transformative power of inclusive sport. Barefoot Man will continue to fund and support the work of Sport Allies, which will now be known as Barefoot Sport Allies.
As Barefoot Man, we are proud that the WR project and Sport Allies have established themselves as credible advocates for healthier masculinity and inclusive sport.
The shared history and the achievements of our two organisations would not have been possible without the hard work of many people behind the camera, including the volunteers who have run Sport Allies for many years and the team members who have worked every day over many years to make Barefoot Man a reality. We are grateful to all of them and to the many people who have stepped in front of the camera, including a lot of naked volunteers!
We want to celebrate those people and their stories in this museum. All entry fees to the WR Museum will go directly to registered charity Barefoot Sport Allies for work that will include promoting sports inclusion and supporting athletes who identify as male to become leaders for change.
The WR Museum will explore the WR project’s history, learning and impact through text, audio, film and stills photography. Using the experience that we have gained from our Seeing Men virtual exhibition, we are creating an experience that will take visitors on a journey through multiple spaces to explain how an ordinary student calendar became an international phenomenon.
The museum will offer an engaging and constantly evolving experience with guest talks, special events and more. Working with guest curators, we will draw on our extensive film and image archive alongside exclusive and previously unseen images and footage to present an authoritative, detailed and inspirational account of how WR became The Barefoot Man – a space to redefine masculinity and to reimagine the role of men in a more equitable world.
Watch this space! It will be opening soon.